Five Key tips for preparing a good resume

Amber Wigmore. Professor. IE Business School

13 April 2012

It might seem easy to prepare a good resume, but it isn’t quite that simple, and it is not something that should be done in a hurry.

It might seem easy to prepare a good resume, but it isn’t quite that simple, and it is not something that should be done in a hurry.Writing a good resume may appear easy but the reality is that it is neither a simple nor quick exercise.

Unfortunately it is something that has never been taught in Spain, and was never considered particularly important. In the US, for example, it is an actual profession - a CV writer is someone who writes resumes for a living, and any that have a decent reputation can charge up to €500. So maybe resumes are a little bit more important than you thought, right?

Let’s take a look at five basic premises when it comes to writing your resume:

1.Format. The first task facing a recruiter is to reduce his/her pile of resumes from, say, 100 to 10. Hence, if your resume is not well formatted it is almost certain to fall at the first fence.

In order to avoid this happening your resume must be:

a.Easy to read, with all key features visible at a glance. 2 pages max.
b.Well structured
c.Free of gramatical mistakes
d.Reviewed by a native speaker if it is in another language.
e.Arranged so that the content of each job is set out in bullet points.

2.Leave no place for doubts.-Ensure there are no information gaps, that it follows a logical sequence, and is coherent. Obviously there may be times when you were not working, but you have to know how to explain it, by stating that you used the time for education projects, for example.

3.Ensure it contains what the recruiter is looking for.- You have to try to cover all the requirements of the job you are applying for point by point. You should make it easy for the recruiter to see that you are the ideal candidate. Of course you are not going to be able to meet 100% of the requirements but if you have done the proper research and you are applying for a position that you have every chance of succeeding in, you should be capable of adapting your experience to many of the job demands.

All information that does not contribute to the job at hand is irrelevant and may even create confusion.

4.Highlight essential points.- Use words that are key for the job position. Obviously you have to do your homework to know exactly what the key words are.

5.Demonstrate capacity and impact.-You should not make the typical mistake of describing your functions. It doesn’t tell the reader if you are capable of doing the work or not. The only way to show that is by describing your achievements.

For instance, instead of saying:

Responsible for capturing new clients in Asia

You could say:

Capture of new clients in the Asian market achieving an increase in sales 15% higher than the target.

That way you demonstrate that you not only meet objectives, you also exceed them.

Another example:

Responsible for key accounts

You could say:

Renegotiated prices with strategic clients to achieve an increase of 7%

It goes without saying that if you have managed to do this it is because you have amazing sales skills. Everyone knows that key clients don’t usually let themselves get talked into price increases.

Capacity is evidenced by achievements and their impact or the value they created. This in turn shows that your management skills can impact bottom-line results. The example above shows a clear impact because it translates into more income for the company, but there are many positions outside sales in which it is more difficult to demonstrate impact. If you are responsible for purchasing and you manage to reduce prices, that is also a clear impact because you are reducing costs, but in other jobs the level of impact is not so clear cut.

It helps to think about your objectives and your KPIs. If you are responsible for Customer Telephone Services and one of your KPIs is the reduction of call times, that means that you are raising productivity. Any increase in productivity will impact bottom line results because it means fewer manpower hours therefore lower costs.

Hence, instead of:

Head of Customer Telephone Services

You could say:

Managed a team of 70 operators raising productivity by 3% last year.

As stated earlier, you have to invest time in preparing a good CV, and said time is inversely proportionate to the amount of time you have spend researching your target company. In other words, if you know all the key factors of the position you are applying for, drafting a CV is merely an exercise in communication and persuasion.

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